What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is darker and more intense than many of Hayao Miyazaki's other classics. Although it's an animated fantasy, it boasts the scope and grandeur of a live-action historical epic and has many battle scenes and other violent sequences, as well as additional gruesome elements. While it's probably too much for most tweens, older kids will be thrilled and engrossed, and teens will love it.
What's the story?
In 15th century Japan, Ashitaka, a young prince from a remote tribe, is cursed by a dying boar god from the forest region of western Japan. His journey to the source of the curse takes him to Iron Town. There Lady Eboshi runs an operation that smelts ore taken from the surrounding mountains once dominated by wolves and boars. Ashitaka is drawn to San, a girl raised by wolves. Together they work to try to stop Lady Eboshi and the corrupt monk Jigo from waging war on the animals.
Is it any good?
PRINCESS MONONOKE is a masterwork of animated storytelling from Hayao Miyazaki, the director of My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. Charting an epic battle of humans versus gods in old Japan, it's filled with adventure and beauty. It boasts the scope and grandeur of a live-action historical epic yet also has the fantastic elements of animation. These elements, in the form of talking animals and a magical forest spirit, are treated with utmost realism. The animals debate their plight with dead seriousness and attack humans in murderous rage. They're nothing like the talking animals in Disney features.
The English dub employs several name actors. They all do a splendid job, which can only help the film's acceptance. The only awkward note is sounded by the mix of accents among the cast, from Lady Eboshi's British accent (Minnie Driver) to the monk Jigo's southern accent (Billy Bob Thornton) to San's modern American teenaged inflections (Claire Danes). Billy Crudup has a neutral accent and carries the entire film as Ashitaka, conveying the moral dilemma of a young outsider caught between two worlds. The other name players include Gillian Anderson as the wolf god Moro, Jada Pinkett-Smith as Toki, and Keith David as boar god Okkoto. The question of its suitability for children will spark debate, although children who see it will not soon forget it.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the role of violence in the film and in real life. How does the impact of the violence in this movie compare to live-action films?
What audience do you think this movie is most likely to appeal to? Why? Who do you think it's intended for?